Pentecost: Love is the Universal Language

The Day of Pentecost is the birth of the Church, the new community founded by the Holy Spirit and built on the foundational love of Christ.


Shalom, Assalaamu Alaikum, Peace be with you. The languages are different, but the message God gives to us to give to one another – the message of love and comfort and affirmation – is the same. The Holy Spirit gives us breath to speak and hearts to listen as Love moves through us. For Pentecost, Lindsey and Adam read Acts 2: 1-21. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability.”

The Day of Pentecost is the birth of the Church, the new community founded by the Holy Spirit and built on the foundational love of Christ.

The old way of building community and order was based on sacrifice and exclusion. Pentecost is often described as a reversal of the Tower of Babel, where the people sought to build a tower to Heaven to achieve unity and “reach God.” The story of Babel mythologizes – disguises – the violent ways in which people sought unity in the ancient world, and sadly still seek unity today. It was the unity of sacrifice – murder of a victim to achieve catharsis, blaming and killing a scapegoat to form bonds of community over-and-against an outcast. God in this story is recreated in humanity’s mistaken image – petty and vengeful, establishing identity over and against humans by knocking them down lest they reach Heaven, scattering them and confusing their language.

But the message behind the myth is that building a world on sacrifice and victimization will always lead to division. Worshipping the false idea of a violent God by violent means – believing that God wants some to live at the expense of others – this is what scatters us.

The truth of Pentecost is that God’s universal love unites us and brings us into our fullest selves. A common language cannot unite if that language is violence, if it teaches the lie that God – that the Power that orders the Universe – demands violence. But the God who gives us different languages and different abilities and different gifts brings all of our diverse beauty together so that we may understand and help and enjoy one another.

We need not define ourselves over and against each other or against God, but are invited to find ourselves in the Love that creates, sustains, and binds us together.

The Olive

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